IX: GENERAL COURT OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY112 June 1822 - David Ricardo, The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 
The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo, ed. Piero Sraffa with the Collaboration of M.H. Dobb (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2005). Vol. 5 Speeches and Evidence 1815-1823.
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GENERAL COURT OF THE EAST INDIA COMPANY
12 June 1822
A Special General Court of Proprietors of the East India Company was held ‘to consider a Bill pending in Parliament, for consolidating the several Laws relating to the Private Trade with the East-Indies; and also to consider the propriety of concurring in the repeal of the law by which ships under the burden of 350 tons are at present precluded from engaging in such trade from the United Kingdom.’ Mr. C. Forbes, who opened the debate, said that the East-India interest was not as powerfully represented in Parliament as the West-India interest; he thought it would be good policy if all the Directors were provided with seats in the House of Commons.
Mr. Ricardo regretted the absence of the gentlemen who usually spoke from that part of the Court, and more particularly of Mr. Hume, who was obliged to attend a Committee of the House of Commons, and could not, in consequence, take a part in the discussion; he hoped, however, that the Court would favour him with their attention while he made a few observations. The Hon. Proprietor who had just spoken had very properly observed, that, in the House of Commons, the interest of the public only should be looked to; that the Members of that House ought not to be swayed by a partiality for the East or the West-India interest. He admitted that it ought to be so; but that man must be blind, who would say, that the House of Commons, as now constituted, performed its duty in that immaculate manner which the Hon. Proprietor described.
Mr. Lowndes rose to order.
Mr. Ricardo assured the Court he would not say another word on the subject. An Hon. Proprietor (Mr. Robertson) seemed to be adverse to opening a free-trade with all European states. If that were the question before the Court, he would willingly meet him on the subject. But the question was not, whether France or Spain should be allowed to enter into the India trade; it was one which entirely concerned English interests. The Gentleman who opened the debate, said he asked only for justice and equality; he wished to be placed on the same footing as the West-India merchant; he did not seek for a monopoly. In those views he (Mr Ricardo) entirely concurred; and, if he wanted to prove their truth and policy, he would refer to the speech of the Hon. Proprietor (Mr. Robertson); for he had shewn that, by taking off restrictions, the trade to the Brazils and to the free-states of South America had increased in a wonderful degree; and, in doing so, he had himself pronounced the warmest eulogium on unrestricted trade. He thought no country could trade advantageously, if she placed restrictions on the commodities with which any state, to whom she was commercially related, could furnish her. It was in vain for the Company to think of sending their goods to India, unless they could take what India was enabled to afford in return. (Hear, hear!) This position was so clear and self-evident, that he wondered any man could doubt it. If all restrictions were removed from the commerce of the country, and it was left to pursue that course which its own active principle would strike out, it would, most assuredly increase in an almost infinite degree. He had no hostility to the West-India interest; on the contrary, he participated in the feelings of regret which their sufferings excited; and if he could assist them, without doing so at the expense of others, he would not be found tardy in affording relief: but he would not support them at the expense of other interests. The buying their sugar at an advanced price was not the only disadvantage which the country suffered from the system. For his own part, he would give to them the difference in price between the East-India and the West-India sugar, as a gratuity, rather than suffer this unjust privilege should be granted to the West-India interest. (Hear, hear!) An Hon. Gentleman (Mr. Carruthers) had protested against the charge that had been levelled at his Majesty’s Ministers, who were said to entertain the intention of giving to one class of persons an unjust advantage over another. That Hon. Gent. seemed to have a very high opinion of his Majesty’s Government. Perhaps he also thought that they meant well. But Gentlemen must shut their eyes, if they did not perceive, that Ministers were not unfrequently obliged to favour particular interests. The power some bodies possessed, the clamour they raised, the interest they commanded in the House of Commons, frequently compelled Ministers to adopt a course which they did not think a proper one. They had an instance of this in the last week. A bill, altering the navigation laws, was passing through the House, and Ministers wanted to carry a clause relative to the importation of thrown silk; but, with all their efforts, they were unable to succeed. In that case Ministers could not carry a point, which appeared to him to be correct. He wished to see a House of Commons free from party, where the interest of the public would alone be considered, in which a deaf ear would be turned to all partial application. (Hear, hear!)